The Sherriff Office's Roadmap To State Accreditation Using ERIN7

The Sherriff Office’s Roadmap To State Accreditation Using ERIN7’s Streamlined Evidence Handling Software

Investigator Brandi Jones is a 16-year veteran of the Rockdale County Sherriff’s Office in Georgia. As the primary evidence custodian in the property and evidence division, she shares her experience with best practices for developing their state accreditation process. 

Interview With Brandi Jones

Read the full interview here for a summary of her evidence room operational ideas.

How important is a good evidence management system?

Records storage isn’t just about property and evidence. It’s about people’s lives. Homicide evidence must be stored for 50 years, for example, so we need a reliable evidence process. We’re not dealing with just records storage. We’re dealing with people’s lives. And that’s why a good system is critical for everyone involved. Evidence provides answers. People want answers. They want the CSI effect. We have cases of evidence that can put a criminal away for 20 years. Or a cold case depends on stored evidence for a reinvestigation potentially 20 years from now! With ERIN7 I have the evidence from police cases with the same integrity as the day we did the original evidence gathering. The officer in charge could go back and maybe exonerate someone or confirm their conviction.

Are evidence items easier to track with ERIN7?

Much easier! For example, if I had a case come in with three bags of marijuana, a pipe, and a book bag, we used to enter all of those items under one barcode label. That made it almost impossible to keep track of each of the items of evidence. With the new ERIN7, it is easier for me to separate those items, and each becomes its own entity with its own barcode. You couldn’t go into the evidence collection and remove the book bag or lose track of it. That label still shows in the system. No matter what it is, in a property and evidence room every item needs to be accounted for. That shows the integrity and confidence level of your room. When the auditors come from the state, they look at everything. The ERIN7 system is an open book that follows the accreditation process so nothing can be hidden. That builds confidence and credibility in your culture of evidence management.

How Does ERIN7 help with State Accreditation Practices?

Annual evidence unit audits, updates, and basic evidence in inventory are a lot to contend with. The new ERIN7 system definitely helps with the inventory, the scanning, and the audits. My auditors can join in and be a part of it which removes me, the primary evidence custodian, from security concerns of actually seeing anything. It makes it harder to falsify anything or to do anything wrong. Before we had ERIN7, we had to run reports and print 300 pieces of paper on everything that was in my evidence room. The auditor had to go through each piece of paper manually. Keeping all that filing correct was an evidence room operations headache.

Do all ERIN7 evidence unit personnel see the same thing?

I can allow people to join with certain privileges, especially during the audit time. Some can see the audit while others just see the inventory. It is highly organized so we can find what we need quickly. I can just go into the inventory itself, or use tools to scan different ways. I can even scan the actual location itself, such as drug box 15 of 2022. It’s just so much easier. It shows you everything that’s supposed to be in there or not in there, and then it prints out a nice little report that includes the chain of custody.

How has ERIN7 digital evidence management saved time?

At least a week every year. I have to have a 100% audit of my drugs, guns, money, and high-end items. ERIN7 cut it down to a week for that. It’s definitely been beneficial. Before ERIN7 we went through some issues with some items being misplaced and things like that. ERIN7 has improved that and given the officers more credibility. For example, my commander has privileges to come in and see everything that I’ve done, that I’ve entered, that I’ve taken out. ERIN7 backs you up and says, “This is what happened to this item. This is where it went. This is the date it went.” It makes everything a little bit easier because they do have more access to the system and see the operations.
When we got ERIN7 with the advanced features, I was like, “Wow, we’ve been missing a lot!”

Has ERIN7 helped in other ways?

My yes! One captain found it much easier to search and find info. For example, getting com stats and the analysis of the number of guns we collected, how many suspects were arrested, etc. With limited privileges, users can do a search on how many firearms they took in during a specific timeframe. We post those stats on our web page for the public to see. These advancements have made work easier and more efficient for a lot of different divisions. We can measure and report on things we never could before.

Is ERIN7 easy to use?

Very! Even casual users find it easy to navigate and get the info they need. The system is simple to maneuver, and if you’re looking for something specific, you just hit your search button. It’s a very easy system to work with.

Does ERIN7 preserve history and knowledge?

That is a very important feature of ERIN7. Any time we need something, it’s there. That was my biggest security concern. You shouldn’t require the property and evidence clerk to know everything, because what if something happened to them? A couple of years ago our sergeant was in charge of everything, and something happened to him. Everybody was at a loss. “Oh, my gosh, what do we do now? Where do we go now?” After that, everything had to change and it was a traumatic event for us. That won’t happen with ERIN7 because it stores everything and most everyone can self-service already.

What tips would you have for someone starting a search for the perfect program?

My three top tips for law enforcement agencies making a move to a digital evidence management system are:
  1. Technical assistance. When you have any issues, you want an immediate, helpful response. Vet the vendor’s support service response time.
  2. Ease-of-use. I have so much evidence to enter every day, so the system needs to be work-friendly and easy to operate.
  3. Ability to meet accreditation requirements. ERIN7 helps us meet all the accreditation standards to pass and stay accredited.

How is the technical support from Erin Technology?

Excellent. They’ve always been a big help, no matter what I need from them. With the new ERIN7, there was a learning process. Their attitude is “Anything you need!” I count on them a lot.

What other department goals has ERIN7 helped you achieve?

  • Checks and balances are crucial. ERIN7 has all the checks and balances we need. For example, on my desktop, I can see my total inventory or my “items ready for disposal” or the ones in “temporary locations.” ERIN7 lays out everything. No more guessing.
  • Knowing precisely what I have in inventory. How many cases do I have? It has “cases for review,” and “cases with review for 31 to 91 days upcoming.” It’s a database that has everything.
  • Knowing which cases are obsolete. It knows which cases are ready for disposal. It helps us purge the junk.
ERIN7 has been such a game-changer for us that I have recommended it to other departments. There is no better endorsement than that.   #Inventory of Evidence, #Types of Evidence, #Digital Files, #Digital Evidence Management Solution, #Law Enforcement Officers, #Repetitive Tasks, #Investigative Process, #Crime Scene, #Critical Evidence, #Digital Evidence Systems, #Evidence Management Process, #Evidence Integrity, #Evidence Management Challenges, #Police Departments, #Public Safety Agencies, #Manual Tasks, #Handwritten Documents, #USB Drives, #Physical Copies, #Solid Chain, #Consolidation of Evidence, #Efficient Evidence Management Software, #Evidence with Courts, #Evidence Types, #Law Enforcement Organizations, #File Types, #Law Enforcement Personnel, #Life of Evidence

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